I was sent this release this morning. It is a good step forward but I'm not sure if I like seeing lawyers getting involved.
Slater & Gordon and ambulance union urge motorists to be more vigilant of cyclists.
Slater & Gordon and the ambulance union (AEA) in Victoria have joined
forces to warn motorists about the need to be more vigilant of cyclists
on the State’s roads.
The law firm and union have come together after identifying a disturbing
trend where cyclists have been injured or died as a result of
collisions or attempts to avoid collisions, specifically from car door
Slater & Gordon motor vehicle accident lawyer, Allan Macrae said the firm
was alarmed by the injuries that clients had sustained while riding
their bikes and the recent death of a cyclist in Melbourne.
“As the number of cyclists on our roads increase, there’s no doubt that the tension between motorists and cyclists is also increasing,” he said.
"A cyclist riding their bike to home, work or for recreational purposes,
should not also have to be concerned that they’re putting their body
and life on the line.”
Mr Macrae said the incidences of people being injured because of car door
openings could be reduced if motorists and in some instances,
passengers took the time to look before opening the car door.
“Drivers and passengers should get into the habit of doing a head check before
opening the car door, just like checking for blind spots when driving,”
Mr Macrae said.
“Our advice is that the easiest way to deal with cyclists on the road is to
treat them like any other vehicle and to give them appropriate space
and consideration on our roads.”
He said cases of cyclists being injured by car door openings, seen by lawyers at Slater & Gordon, included:
Steve McGhie, Ambulance Employees Australia State Secretary, said his members were seeing up to five cyclists struck by car door openings, each week.
“It’s certainly a disturbing trend,” he said.
“Along with increasing awareness in this area, our members believe that more can be done to improve safety on our roads for cyclists.
“Standard bike lanes are funnelling cyclists into a hazardous place adjacent to
parked cars - increasing the risk of them being struck or colliding
with open or opening car doors.”
“There’s a definite need to increase awareness about these accidents and to change driver habits.”
Mr Macrae said many injured cyclists were not aware of their rights under the State’s injury insurance scheme.
“We’ve been told that many people who present themselves for treatment after a
collision with a car, are not aware of their rights to access
compensation and that’s alarming because it can mean that people are
not getting access to medical care and compensation from the Transport
Accident Commission (TAC).”
Mr Macrae said cyclists had always been covered by the TAC scheme for
compensation, when they are injured during a collision or when trying
to avoid a collision with a motor vehicle that was being driven. He
said that in 1995, the laws were improved to cover cyclists who had
been hit by an open or opening vehicle door.
“The area covering cyclists is complex and cyclists should always seek legal
advice if they’ve been in an accident involving a vehicle or a
near-miss with a vehicle,” he said.
Mr Macrae said in addition to the TAC system, some cyclists, who are
injured in the course of their employment, should be covered by the
WorkCover and Comcare workers compensation schemes.
Data supplied to Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit
(VISU) has shown that hospital admissions due to pedal-cycle accidents
among adult cyclists increased an average of 9 per cent each year from
1999 to 2008. This is said to be in line with the growing popularity of
recreational and commuter cycling.
The data has revealed that about 32 per cent of injuries were the result of
‘pedal cyclist injured in collision with car, pick-up truck or van’ and
about the same (32 per cent) were the result of a ‘pedal cyclist
injured in non-collision transport accident’, such as being thrown from
or falling off the bicycle.
You can download this release as a PDF to share [attached]